Alberta truckers pull together against cancer

LLOYDMINSTER, Alta. — Tom Jack knows of too many people who lost their fight with cancer and with others close to him still fighting the battle, he was starting to get pretty angry about it.

Then his wife Janice pointed something out: cancer doesn’t care if you’re mad.

The comment stuck with Jack and instead of stewing in his anger, the owner-operator from Vegreville, Alta. decided to take some action. So after a little more than two months of planning, Tom Jack piloted his rig – along with 34 other truckers – on a stretch of the Yellowhead Highway leading into Lloydminster, Alta. and raised more than $16,000.

“Between myself and my wife we’ve lost 12 family members to cancer,” says Tom. “I have a sister and brother-in-law in Ontario and their battle really prompted this.”

His sister was diagnosed five years ago with breast cancer. Shortly after recovering from surgery to remove the cancer her husband had a heart attack. Five months later, just as Tom’s brother-in-law was getting back to work, the doctors discovered he also had cancer. That was three years ago.

Back in May, when Tom was out visiting his sister that’s when his anger towards cancer started to take hold. When he returned to Alberta he decided to try and raise some money, and took to the local radio station for advice.

“There’s a radio station in Lloydminster, 106.1 The Goat, I call in regularly and they know me as Trucker Tom,” he explains. “I was talking to one of the guys there, Chad Hansen, and told him that I wanted to do something like camp out on the roof of The Goat or something. He said, Tom it’s May, people are just going to think you’re camping. You’re a trucker, how about a convoy?”

(The Goat is familiar with truckers and their generosity, working every Christmas to help support the 18 Wheels of Christmas campaign.)

Tom also had the support of a few other locals who campaigned and arranged companies to donate time and goods, while Tom continued to truck in the oilpatch.

All the hard work paid off and in just two months the convoy started out near Vermilion, Alta. and drove the 60 or so kilometres into Lloydminster where a barbeque was held at the Ex Grounds.

“We had 55 trucks registered. My goal in the beginning was 50 trucks and $10,000,” says Tom. “In our industry things happen and I didn’t know what would happen until the Saturday, and we got 35 trucks.”

In conjunction with the convoy, The Goat hosted a silent auction, and about $16,000 was raised for the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton, which offers facilities for diagnosis and treatment, as well as other support services for people with cancer.

“We announced on Saturday at the barbeque that it was going to be an annual event and I’m gonna do it ‘til the day I die,” adds Tom.

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